Green provides blueprint to make Warriors red-hot
Blake Green's blueprint for finals footy success? Keep it super simple and don't forget to smile and enjoy the journey, lads.
In a nutshell, it is the advice the veteran five-eighth will share with the Warriors' finals first-timers leading into Saturday night's elimination final against Penrith.
The 32-year-old has slotted back into the No.6 jersey after two matches on the sidelines with a calf strain. It's a welcome return for the Warriors, as much for Green's big-match experience as for his selfless set-up play of steppers Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and his own important incursions.
It's not that the Auckland club doesn't have players with finals experience, including Johnson and Simon Mannering who are the sole survivors from the Warriors' last September campaign, a team that made it all the way to the 2011 grand final.
Elsewhere, fullback Tuivasa-Sheck won the 2013 title with the Roosters, Tohu Harris tasted grand final heartache and ecstasy with the Storm in 2016 and 2017 respectively, fellow second-rower Adam Blair joined the club after three successive finals campaigns with the Broncos and played in a grand final win with Melbourne in 2009, while hooker Issac Luke also helped the Rabbitohs to the 2014 title, although missed the decider through suspension.
But Green is seen as critical to helping the Warriors progress beyond the Panthers given he's played eight NRL finals matches and was a key member of Wigan's Super League-Challenge Cup double side in 2013, claiming the man-of-the-match gong in the championship decider.
So what's the secret to September football?
"It's still the same game," Green urged.
"There's a bigger prize at the end of it, pressure, a bigger crowd and all those sorts of things but it's a simple game, footy, so the bigger the game, the simpler the game plan I reckon. Fortunately we're nice and relaxed so hopefully we can put a good performance in at the weekend."
But surely experience is vital?
"There's pros and cons I guess. The boys who haven't been there don't know what's coming but hopefully a lot of energy and enthusiasm takes them a long way. It's important we just enjoy the week and have a big smile on the face because the club's done a really good job and I'm sure everyone will be putting their best foot forward and doing the club proud again."
Green can't wait to reunite with Johnson in what shapes as a pivotal halves battle against James Maloney and Nathan Cleary.
"He's really easy to play with. He's really instinctive, Shaun, he's a bit of a freestyler so it's my job in the team to try to put him in the best positions possible on the field, with some space. Hopefully we can do that as often as we can this week."
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